The Perfect Stocked Pantry

As a chef and blogger, I get asked often to share just what I would want in a home-away-from-home pantry.  While part of the excitement for me is to visit the grocery aisles and delis of the local destinations where I travel, it is nice to never have to buy the basics…as long as what is in the pantry has been stored properly, has not reached its expiration date, and appears clean. 


  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Corn starch
  • Baking soda (two boxes in case the refrigerator needs one)

 Everyday essentials:

  • First night’s coffee, even if it is instant
  • A few tea bags
  • Filters for your coffee pot, if it needs one, otherwise, your guests will improvise and you may not like the results
  • Creamer
  • Vinegar
  • Cooking spray
  • Olive oil—replace every 2-3 months
  • Seasonings:
    • Italian
    • Garlic powder
    • Garlic salt
    • Onion powder
    • Onion salt
    • Cinnamon
    • Chili powder
    • Steak or BBQ rubs
    • Vanilla extract
    • If you live in certain areas, you might consider a basic curry powder, ancho chili, Tajin, cumin, Adobo, and the like

Here is a list of other nice to haves and easy to keep...

  • Ketchup—get the stay clean caps.  Or buy small containers by the case from a supplier
  • Mustard—see above
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Instant decaf coffee
  • Powdered creamer
  • Splenda, Truvia, Equal
  • Hot chocolate
  • Microwave popcorn (just one package…if they are into popcorn, they probably brought some)
  • Pancake mix
  • Frozen waffles
  • Brown sugar
  • Hot sauces
  • Soy sauce
  • Steak sauces
  • Aluminum foil
  • Parchment paper to protect your cookie sheets and pans
  • Paper napkins
  • Paper plates
  • Storage bags for left overs

And, if you want to please the discriminating cook that might visit, don’t forget to stock the cooking tool drawer and pot shelf with the following:

  •  At least one good sharp prep knife—Pampered Chef has three that are housed in their own safety cases that serve as a knife sharpener.  Worth the investment!!
  • Cheese knife
  • Paring knife (sharp)
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Garlic press
  • Two spatulas, one big, one smaller
  • Slotted spoon
  • Pasta spoon
  • Citrus juicer
  • A variety of prep bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Bowl scrapers (large and small)
  • Tongs
  • Bread knife
  • Wine opener
  • Pastry brush
  • Ice cream scoop
  • Zester
  • Can opener
  • Bottle opener
  • Scissors (kitchen, and label them, For Kitchen Use Only)
  • Potato masher
  • Pizza cutter
  • Whisk (I have multiple sizes, and like plastic ones that won’t rust)
  • Cheese board
  • At least three cutting boards, one for bread, one for veggie prep, and one for meat prep---guests will use your countertops otherwise
  • Cookie sheets/trays.  I love the ½ sized ones from  I keep a couple in my pantry and use at least one at every meal!
  • One each:  13 x 9, 9 x 9 square, and 8” round baking pans
  • At least two sauce pans, one small butter pan, two frying pans (one large and one small) and lids for everything…its your kitchen you are protecting.
  • 3 Mixing bowls, popcorn bowls, serving bowls, including a good salad bowl, and a few plastic storage containers. 

Have maps handy for the grocery stores near you. Be sure to include specialty stores that might feature items unique to your area. Also, box stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.  Finally, I appreciate finding Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, World Market, Trader Joe's and Discount Wine destinations!!!  Happy Hosting!  And as a chef/caterer, and food lover, thanks for thinking of all this!!!!!            

Did we forget something that you have had rave reviews about or have had requested frequently?  Since many of you also RENT when you travel, share with us your additions or stories of how you’ve improvised. 

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